Monday, August 30, 2010

cellphone transcriptions

The case really begins. we are given notepaper and pens, logbooks of comings and goings outside a factory gate, and a huge folder of cellphone transcriptions. We each quietly count the number of pages (over 300) and estimate how long it will take to get through them all.
A recording of the 'phone conversation is played. We can hear comprehension. anger, confusion from these but as they are held in several foreign languages we don't get any of the content. This is remedied by a policeman reading the transcripts aloud to us, as we follow in our own copies. He has a very prosaic voice.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

new courtroom, same jury

Back in the High Court we each are taken to a new, modern courtroom. the 'staff' introduce themselves and their roles. The judge a kindly, older man thanks us for our attendance and makes various reassuring remarks. The registrar a formal, Indian man is our guide in court matters and ushers us in and out of the jury room and hands our the evidence folders to us. There are two prosecution lawyers and one defence. Prosecution are in front of the defence lawyer, who is in turn in front of his client, who is accompanied by a police/prison officer. The clerk of the court sits near the judge and records proceedings. We, the jury are on the judge's left, straight across from us is the witness box. Judge, registrar and lawyers are all in black gowns.

Monday, July 26, 2010

new jury

Getting to the court is a breeze, I just get my usual bus but stay on for two more stages. this trial is at the high court, I havn't been here before. It is a grand old building (built in the 1800's) on one side, a late 20th C building on the other, connected by a glass roof over the old courtyard. The jury assembly room is half full when I arrive, give my name to the clerk and sit. (No checking that we are who we say we are, guess no one tries to infiltrate a jury) the room fills up and we are shown a DVD of court proceedure. the staff are all very reassuring, they know that for each of us it is all new. The names of people present are in a octaginal box on a spindle, the clerk gives it a spin, opens the door on it and calls out a name, that person gets a card indicating which courtroom they are to go to. I'm one of 40 selected for courtroom 1. We are told that we are lucky, it is the original courtroom, not much used these days but trials are still in progress in other courtrooms. We form a long crocodile after the clerk to a magnificent room, a little like a victorian church, and as cold as charity. We sit at the back of the room and the octaginal box is spun again to select the jury. As names are called people walk slowly to the jury box while the lawyers frantically look at their papers for info on these potential jurors. 3 older pakeha men are challenged and I'm called 12th and last, not challenged.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

12 jurors or is that 13?

The 12 of us jurors are sent out to this very cold, bare room to decide who is to be foreman. Having learnt from before, I wait for someone else to start talking. One of us introduces himself and the rest follow.. then wait...most of us have been on juries before, nobody wants to be pushy, we will be together for weeks. A young bloke volunteers and we agree happily. Then one young woman says that she has a placement due in the next couple of weeks, if she doesn't go her graduation will be postponed for 6 months. Several of us say she must ask the judge if she can be excused, it is unreasonable for her life to be on hold for so long. We all troop back into the courtroom and she talks to the judge briefly, he does excuse her. Fortunately the remainder of the jury pool is still there. Another juror is balloted and because we are technically a new jury we go back to the little room, confirm our choice of foreman and return to the courtroom. We are then dismissed for the rest of the day and the next, unit a more modern and comfortable courtroom is available.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

2nd jury

Two, maybe three years ago I was on another jury. The 12 of us sat in the room off the courtroom to decide who was to be foreman. We all sat there like bumps on a log until I asked who had been on a jury before, who had chaired a meeting. Mumbled replies, then I was nominated chair! The trial was a sexual violation case, not too terrible as such things go. We reached a unanimous verdict. At the start of deliberations I asked that we didn't express opinions on guilt or otherwise until we had collectively looked at discrepancies with the evidence. this took some time but we arrived at an unanimous verdict of guilty. I was quite nervous standing up in courtroom at the end, announcing our verdict.

request to attend

I've received a jury summons in the post. This is my 4th, and I've been on 2 juries. The first jury that I sat on was a bit of a disaster. A woman was caught smuggling drugs into the country. several kilos were hidden in the lining of her enormous suitcase. The question that we faced was did she know that they were there? Unfortunately some of the jury had decided before they heard the evidece that she was guilty and some had decided that she was innocent. We could not reach a verdict. the judge declared a hung jury, we were released and I STILL don't know if she was an incredibly naive dupe or an unlucky courier, I suspect the latter.

In this blog about jury service, I will not mention any names or give identifying information about the trial.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Final days

The end of term approaches! The end of the time that CofU is with us is nigh! Jason asked us if CofU could stay with us until the 1st Tuesday of the holidays. I said that there would be a mutiny at home if he did. D, J and myself were counting down the days until his departure, thinking that it would be either Thursday night or Friday morning. Jason then said that he would leave us on the last Tuesday of term. Subdued rejoicing. Come 6.00pm on the day and CofU hadn't been picked up. I rang Jason who had shifted house that day and forgotten all about him. We had a last meal together, then dropped CofU off at the new place he was staying, which was the home of his maths teacher.

Insults given and taken

I have the impression that people think that I'm likeable and easy to get along with, so I was quite taken aback when CofU said I was "illnatured". That comment hurt, perhaps more than was reasonable, his opinion doesn't have much value, and might have even bean a misunderstanding. In return I've told him (under provocation) that he is tactless and has a thick head. I'm ashamed that I lost my cool and said these even if they are true.

Tattle tale

CofU came to me and said that D had said a bad word, F***. Not rising to the bait I calmly said it was a bad word and that he must have been provoked to use it. I later asked D for the full story, he told me that CofU walking across the lounge had inadvertently stepped against a power cord that was supplying D's laptop, pulling it out. D lost the last 1/2 hour's work. no wonder he was a bit upset. Why did CofU tell me just part of the story, to make trouble between D and myself? He also infallibly tells me if J is watching TV and using a computer at the same time, something I dislike.

The lion can roar!

We all had to be out of the house early for some mornings. D and C to work and J to ride to school. CofU didn't need to go to school so early, but had to be out of the house at the same time as ther rest of us. He tended to leave getting dressed into his school uniform until after breakfast, that's OK but on Tuesday morning he was still waltzing around ununiformed with just moments to gg before I needed to lock the door behind us. I'd explained the urgency and instructed him to dress. I was filling lunch-boxes in the kitchen when I heard a roar from the hallway, D laying down the law to CofU in no uncertain terms. J and I looked at each other "glad he ahs never yelled at me like that". CofU got dressed in record time and scuttled out the door.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

winding up

Never say that CofU doesn't understand how to wind up some one. He has realised that it really irritates me if he calls someone 'pig woman'. So he does it, sometimes just saying the words over and over quietly but audibly. Urghh! He hs asked about Queen Elizabeth, about her prettiness and usefulness. I'm not much of a royalist, but his attitude has bought out a stong defence of her in me. He has expressed a desire to kill her, a joke, I think, but if anything happens to her, he will be the first I think of as being responsibile.

For J he says 'tchh' with a little snear on his face whenever J speaks. It drives J wild!

CofU suggests that D could sell his lovingly restored enigne for lots of money. Realising that this engine is valuable to D, but maybe not so worthy to anyone else. He thinks of the price of everything but doesn't see non-monetary value.

Monday, March 29, 2010

no friend

CofU had arranged to meet a friend in the school grounds on Saturday at 2.00. Fair enough. J and I went with hime to the school to also meet the friend and find out where they were going and what the intended to do. The friend never showed up. J and I were intending to go to some shops about 15 mins away and we insisted that CofU come with us, D wasn't going to be home all afternoon and might have already left. After waiting 20 minutes, we left, CofU protesting all the way, loudly. Then he started niggling a J. J lost it. After some shouting we marched down to the shops in silence. J first, then me, CofU trailing.

How to insult people and make enemies

Yes it is possible to annoy someone within moments of meeting them, if you make fun of their name, interrupt them when they are speaking with an inane question or comment, or tell them that their home country's economy is very bad. All done by CofU, and more that once.

Late arrival

Where is he! CofU usually gets home from his after-school programme 5.30-5.40 and now it' s 6.15! Do I go out looking for him, do I call the homestay co-ordinator, or the police? No, CofU turns up at 6.20, breezes in surprised that I've been concerned about his whereabouts. He says he's been to a friend's house (but they didn't go inside), he doesn't know where, just up a mountain! I gave him a piece of my mind. Spelled our my expectations, he is much too young to be roaming the streets.


CofU even annoys when he is asleep. First he is reluctant to have a shower and go to bed. Once in bed he tosses and turns in the night The tucked in sheets become untucked and end in a sort of nest at the end of the bed, the cover jammed between the bed and the wall. He hits the wall in the night, sufficiently hard to be heard in the next room. He also snores, because he is overweight and sleeps on his back. The other night his snoring woke J who was understandably grumpy (J tries to get to sleep before CofU so he wont hear the snoring), I went into the room and rolled him onto his side, he half woke but at least stopped snoring. CofU is good at getting up in the morning, though he does tend to drift around when we are rushing to get ready for work and school.

sustained tantrum

On Sunday the sea scouts had a raft race, followed by prize-giving. When we arrived CofU and I saw that his friend was in the water, fully clothed. The friend's homesay mother ahd given him permission to go in, as she had towels and change of clothes for him. Thinking to forstall trouble, I forbade CofU from going swimming. The prize-giving was out-doors near the beach and many of the speakers were inaudible. The ceremony went on for 3/4 of an hour so I wasn't surprised that CofU had drifted away from it. I would have done the same but htought that it would be rude. Having found my family I then found CofU chest deep in the sea! He claimed that his friend had splashed him! Once out I told him that he was walking home, and so was I. We had walked a 200 metres before it dawned on him that he was going to be walking 2 km uphill in wet clothes. Such a tantrum! So unfair! Unbearable! He shouted, he stamped his feet, he threw himself to the ground, he lurched out onto the road. D and J had gone to get the car (they agreed that a wet and salty person was not an acceptable passenger) J found us, making very slow progress up the road and CofU changed his wet shirt for a dry one. J and D went home and got a plastic coat to use to protect the car seat and came back to pick CofU and me up. I was torn between leaving him to his own devices and keeping him safe. Horrible afternoon, nearly an hour of rage and protest. Scary to see bad toddler behaviour in someone slightly larger than me.

disgusting vs delicious

CofU sees the world in black and white. Food is either delicious or disgusting. He asks me as I cook if it is delicious, I don't like to brag, but why would I cook something that isn't. He loathes onion, fair enough D and J don't like it either (try to make a savery dish without "first saute an onion.") He also doesn't like beans or carrots or lettuce. He is not shy about telling me over and over, but will eat them. It was funny to see him eating raw carrot holding his nose, I had to sniff my carrot to try and detect any smell at all. He loves lasagne and meat dishes generally. Often he makes himself a bowl of noodles either before dinner or imediately after. He slurps. He likes my meusli, which is a pity as he eats a full cup of it for breakfast each morning and we keep running out of it, but as it is often the only fruit he has during the day... As a 'joke' the CofU asks if various things are delicious and goes to eat them, such as paper, vegetable scraps or dishwasher powder. We have made to rule that lemonade is only drunk at dinnertime, otherwise 3 litres disappears before Wednesday. Speaking of disappearing, 1/2 a batch of afghans have gone.

Monday, March 22, 2010


CofU loves the game Monopoly, he would play it every day, for hours if any one else would play it with him. It makes for a happy and pleasent time, but I've got other things to do, so has J and D just never plays the game. Just as well our family policy is to only play the game for one hour, then cash up. We all know that playing for hours until a player is utterly bankrupt is misery for that person. Playing for a limited time takes most of the stress out of the game, yet still keeping the challenge. I've shown CofU how to do a Suduku, he understands but doen't really like it because it is a solitary activity. J and I will teach him how to play "last card".

Annoying habits

CofU has a range of annoying behaviours. Some are just boyish lack of consideration such as not making his bed and leaving his shoes in doorways.
One that I found particularly irritating was peeing on the toilet seat. I have trained D and J to lift the seat before they urinate, they are very good about this. After sitting on a damp seat (urgh!) I told CofU to lift the seat before using the toilet, showed him what I meant and followed it up with a sign "Make me happy, lift the seat before you pee" He found this funny, but it seems to have worked.
He picks at everything, looks at everything, fiddles with everything within reach...


The most intrusive, rude, surprising boy ever! Maybe not, but well beyond normal behaviour. On Saturday morning D and I were lying in bed, listening to the radio (glad that's all that we were doing!) when CofU opened the door, burst in, came right over to D's side of the bed and threw back the covers! D was just wearing satin boxer shorts, his customary summer pyjamas. CofU grunted, pulled the covers back and left the room. I laughed with shock, D was baffled and cross. no explanation given then or later for this behaviour. We have resorted to putting a wedge under our bedroom door.

Why he is with us

The "Centre of the Universe" AKA CofU has started at NX, it is the beginning of the term. He came with a large suitcase of his clothes and stuff plus school uniform including very large shoes. On Thursday he came with us to pick J up from scouts. There we discovered that he had been staying with another family for two weeks previously. The father of the other family couldn't stand him any more, the other, likable student threatened to leave them if CofU stayed and the rest of the family were only to glad to see that back of him. The father suggested that the CofU was an example of why you should never shake a baby! We got on really well with this other family and hope to see more of them, when the Cof U has left us at the end of this term.

Initial impressions

Our new homestay student has arrived and settled in to J's room. He is a largish boy, between 10 and 11, quite handsome. His english isn't fantastic, but certainly better than our korean!
I won't mention his name, if his mother ever read this she would be moritified. We call him the "Centre of the Universe", ironically, because he behaves as if this is true. He demands attention and is forthright in his dislikes.

Surprise homestay

Early February
We had just got back from our holiday in Christchurch (lovely time) and were rung by Jason who organizes homestay students from another country who are studying at NX He asked us to take on a student and after talking with my son and husband I agreed. We had had students before and they have varied between OK and charming. Our hestiation was over that fact J. was no longer at NX. The boy arrived the next day.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Evaluating websites

Bibliotravel is managed by two people who give us short autobiographies (could all be made up of course!) they both have websites separate from Bibliotravel, but the only contact is via email. The latest review added was Jan 10 so this site is refreshed and current.
Weread has a very long Terms of use clause and the anonymous editors control content to a degree. The only way of contacting them is through email. The FAQ tells me that weRead is part of Ugenie Inc which was incorporated as a for-profit in 2006. Both these sites are formed by community contributions, so that content may be erratic and all opinion!

Monday, January 11, 2010

authors perspective

By far and away the best of these sites is Bookbrowse. It has hundreds of authors (as usual stong American bias and low/nil NZ content) aqnd all the authors that I found are still living. the biog. appear to have been written by the autors themselves. It has some podcasts of author interviews but also written interviews which I find more concise and appealing. The podcast I watched (the beginning of anyway) was of Hilary Mantel, author of "Wolf Hall" It has book summaries and reviews by many reviewers. A one stop shop for info on contemporary authors!
Good for rounding out picture of book's geneisis and to satisfy nosiness about the author's origins. I will use this for myself and for patrons.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Readers and booklovers

Bibliotravel is a great idea! but only 20 NZ set books. A project for this new year to raise our country's profile a bit? Book divas looked promising but the site was down every time I looked at it. Weread also appealed, I like the mix of plot summeries and emotive repsonses, both good and bad from several people. It was a bit heavy on Harry Potter though. I entered 'The life of Pi' to get recommendations of similar books. It did bring up seven books that I've read and really liked and a couple of ones that might be good, but also Shakespeare and children's books. I couldn't see the connection with 'Pi' or a likeness between them except that they all were 'quality' books. An element of randomness here?